Sometimes the best plan is to have no plan.
At the tail end of 2010 my old friend Kyle and I tried to plan a surf trip to see in the New Year with a few warmer waves. Almost every option we looked at turned into a dead end and with two weeks to go until our planned departure date I drew a circle on a map with a 6 hour flight radius to see just where we could go. After researching all of our options, most of which turned out to have four-figure price tags, we flipped a coin between Sardinia (the mediterranean island off Italy) and the Algarve coast of Portugal. The Algarve won so we booked the cheapest flight that we could find (not so cheap because of the time of year) and organised what we thought would be a beater of a hire car judging by the cost. There was barely any coin left in our budget.
After a tortuous six-week flat spell, the Atlantic coast of Europe woke up on Boxing Day growling...
So much so that the banks at nearly every west facing beach were immediately washed away. We spent the first few days clocking up the miles looking in every nook and cranny down every dirt track leading to the coast and surfing coves that were just cauldrons of churning whitewater. Big drops and one-turn-wonders on waves that were barely more than glorified closeouts. We paddled ALOT.
Budgetary requirements resulted in our rental car becoming our accomodation. Old hands at this from the combined experience of many trips on many continents, we have found that sleeping next to the bins behind restaurants is a sure fire way of making friends with local dogs on the scrounge for scraps, but also (and most importantly) of avoiding being moved on by the cops. They don't expect crew to camp here for obvious reasons so focus their attentions on waking up and shifting all the camper vans in the beach car parks.
The joy of the Algarve is that it's the most South Westerly tip of the Iberian Peninsula so when the swell gets massive and the wind comes from the North (as it did over the 2010/2011 transition) the swell wraps right around onto the South Coast. There are some incredible right-hand point breaks along here nestled under the cliffs. We scored this joint solo for an evening before word obviously got out the next day. Overhead and wedging, this made it worth sleeping in a car and eating sandwiches for a week without a doubt.